Penn State chemical engineering alumnus establishes early career professorship

October 14, 2022

By Mariah Chuprinski

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Looking back on a 38-year career with Procter & Gamble, Penn State chemical engineering alumnus Michael Griffin said he owes his success to the education he received at Penn State. To give back, he and his wife, Nikki, pledged a $400,000 endowment to establish the Michael and Nikki Griffin Early Career Professorship in Chemical Engineering to support a faculty member in the first years of their academic career. The endowment includes a $100,000 matching commitment from Penn State through a recently concluded program. 

“Mike’s passion for process safety and loss prevention — critical elements in chemical engineering — is inspiring,” said Michael Janik, acting head of the Penn State Department of Chemical Engineering. “We are grateful for Mike and Nikki’s generosity and commitment to help early career faculty contribute to our research and teaching missions.” 

Griffin graduated from Penn State in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a commission in the U.S. Air Force. Prior to beginning his active duty, Griffin started his career in Procter & Gamble’s engineering division. His section head was a Penn State chemical engineer. After his return from the Air Force, Griffin worked under the same section head and a group leader who was also a Penn State chemical engineer. 

While serving at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Griffin met his wife, Nikki, and they married just before he finished his active duty. He joined Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, where he spent his first year in synthetic granules engineering and the next 18 years in industrial chemicals engineering, including a three-year assignment in northern England. Griffin finished his career in energy and safety systems engineering, where he spent 15 years as a technology leader in process safety engineering. He retired in 2000.

“Upon reflection, I realized my 38-year career with Procter & Gamble and financial stability was enabled by my Penn State education,” said Griffin, who retired voluntarily when he was 59. “Nikki and I felt it was time for us to give back and establish the Michael and Nikki Griffin Early Career Professorship in Chemical Engineering.” 

Griffin is interested in process safety and loss prevention, a growing field focused on improving safety and minimizing product loss when working with chemicals. It is now a required course for all chemical engineering undergraduates at Penn State. Accordingly, the professorship will be given to faculty members whose scholarship, teaching and research focus primarily on process safety. The funding will be used for a faculty member’s salary, research expenses, education and travel expenses, and to help support undergraduate and graduate students who contribute to the faculty member’s research. 

Griffin was a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, during which time he presented several papers on process safety and, as a member of the AIChE Loss Prevention Committee, chaired the 2000 Loss Prevention Symposium.

The Griffins live in Cincinnati and have one grown daughter, Gwinnith, who lives in New York. 

With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016 to 2022, philanthropy is helping to sustain the University’s mission of education, research and service to communities across the commonwealth and around the globe. Scholarships enable Penn State to open doors and welcome students from every background, support for transformative experiences allows students and faculty to fulfill their vast potential for leadership, and gifts toward discovery and excellence help serve and impact the world. To learn more about the impact of giving and the continuing need for support, please visit


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